In aviation, we tend to consider our use of GPS one of the more important applications of the technology, especially when compared to, say, drivers on downtown shopping expeditions. And, of course, it is.
South Korea has been subject to annual GPS jamming attacks by its North Korean neighbor since 2010. Over that period, jamming has extended over longer periods, with the longest being a continuous 16-day attack, employing various frequencies, techniques and signal strengths. As the jamming periods increased each year, they affected more and more GPS users. Last year, South Korean officials estimated that 1,016 aircraft lost GPS signals, as did 254 ships and a large number of cellphone towers.
Last month AIN reported on the disturbing increase in reports of GPS interference and deliberate jamming and raised the question of continuing GPS reliability if these incidents (attributable to small portable jammers used by truckers to obfuscate their whereabouts) increase in numbers and transmitted power.
Clearly impatient with the way the company’s plan for its nationwide broadband Internet project is becoming further and further delayed by opposition from the GPS user community, several federal government departments, members of Congress and, reportedly, within the FCC bureaucracy itself, a LightSquared
The Coalition to ‘Save Our GPS,’ through vice president and general counsel Jim Kirkland of founding member Trimble, has responded to claims by LightSquared, which is seeking approval for a terrestrial broadband communication service in a frequency spectrum very close to that of GPS.
LightSquared signed an agreement yesterday with Javad GNSS to develop a system that it claims will eliminate related interference issues between LightSquared’s planned 4G broadband network transmitters and high-precision GPS devices.
A study released by the Save Our GPS Coalition warns of “serious repercussions for the U.S. economy” if LightSquared is allowed to broadcast 4G broadband signals that cause interference with GPS. According to the study, more than 3.3 million U.S.
A June editorial in GPS World magazine notes that ICAO’s marine equivalent, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has endorsed eLoran as the backup to GPS. This echoed the unanimous view of GPS industry leaders, who advocate eLoran as the best solution for all users.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, on January 7 announced that U.S. loran-C stations will be progressively shut down between February and October, since everyone now uses GPS for navigation. The banks and the communications industry also moved from loran to the slightly more accurate GPS for split-second transaction timing for our ATMs and our cellphones.
Nobody needs reminding how much debt the U.S. has amassed recently, but shutting down the loran system and hanging the future of ATC solely on satnav goes against the basic aeronautical tenets of backup, alternative load paths, redundancy and failsafe structure. Killing loran, we are told, will save our government about $35 million, no more than a decent bonus for one Wall Streeter.
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